Journal of Archaeological Science: "The Tempest: geoarchaeological examinations of tropical cycle/hurricane signatures in a submerged, formerly coastal shell midden site, Econfina Channel, Florida, U.S.A."
Dr. Erv Garrison (Professor Geology and Anthropology) and
Dr. Jessica W. Cook Hale (Departmental Research Fellow / Consulting Geoarchaeologist)
The authors present the results from a study in Apalachee Bay that examines impacts from two recent tropical cyclone systems on archaeological shell middens in successive years. These sites are excellent indicators for coastal occupations globally and can retain evidence for major developments in cultural evolution, including reactions to climate change and sea-level rise from the Pleistocene into the Holocene. The degree to which middens have retained information of past and present marine forces, including tropical cyclones, is a key finding in their potential study. The authors used a geoarchaeological methodology that quantifies particle size fractions from sediments taken from various zones within the sites for comparison before and after each storm. Results appear to indicate that horizontal displacement has been minimal. This bodes well for the horizontal spatial integrity of features within similar sites that have experienced such hurricanes. This optimistic finding is tempered by results that suggest that fine to medium sands were displaced by both hurricanes. This suggests that submerged sites like Econfina Channel are likely to continue to experience vertical displacement. Caution should be exercised when evaluating such stratigraphic relationships.